1. You Only Live Twice was the first James Bond film to discard most of Ian Fleming's plot, using only a few characters and locations from his 1964 novel of the same name as the background for an entirely new story. The man responsible for this semi-new adventure was none other than Roald Dahl. Dahl had been a close friend of Ian Flemings, and this factored into the decision to chose him to pen the adaptation despite him having no prior experience writing a screenplay.
Close friend or not, Dahl didn't have much praise for Fleming's novel, stating that he felt You Only Live Twice was...
"Ian Fleming’s worst book, with no plot in it which would even make a movie.Dahl had to come up with something quickly as he only had six weeks to deliver the first draft, so he decided to base his screenplay on his favourite of Fleming's Bond novels, Dr. No, and use a similar story structure.
I could retain only four or five of the original story's ideas, [so] I didn't know what the hell Bond was going to do."
2. Director Lewis Gilbert, producers Albert R. 'Cubby' Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, production designer Ken Adam and director of photography Freddie Young all went to Japan for three weeks to scout for locations. The group was due to return to the UK on a BOAC Boeing 707 flight (BOAC Flight 911) on March 5th 1966, but they postponed their flight by a day after being invited to watch a ninja demonstration.
The flight they all should've been on crashed 25 minutes after takeoff, killing everybody on board.
3. Czech actor Jan Werich (above left) was originally cast by Saltzman to play Blofeld, but Broccoli and Gilbert felt that he was a bad choice, resembling a "poor, benevolent Santa Claus".
Nonetheless, in an attempt to make the casting work, Gilbert began filming with Werich. However, one week into the shoot it was decided that he was just not menacing enough, and Broccoli decided to recast Blofeld
4. Donald Pleasence (above left) was the man chosen by Broccoli to play Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Pleasence was very keen to have input on how the character should look and suggested various ideas for Blofeld's appearance including a hump, a limp, a beard, and a lame hand, before he settled on the scar.
Later he said he regretted the choice as he found the scar uncomfortable during shooting, because the glue used to attach it would stick to his eye.
5. In the novel, Fleming described Blofeld's hide-out as being a castle on the coast, but Ken Adam discovered that this could never be as the Japanese didn't build their castles directly on the coast for fear of typhoons. Hence the creation of the elaborate volcano set at Pinewood Studios.
The set consisted of a movable helicopter platform, a working monorail system, a launch pad and a full scale rocket mock-up that could simulate lift-off. 700 tonnes of structural steel and 200 miles of tubular steel were used. Adam once said that the set used more steel than had been used to build the London Hilton Hotel. The set also used 200 tonnes of plaster, 500,000 tubular couplings and over 250,000 square yards of canvas, and cost just over $1 million. At 45 m (148 ft) tall the set could be seen from 3 miles away and attracted many people to the region in the hope of catching a glimpse of Sean Connery filming.
6. Many European models were tested for the part of Helga Brandt, including German actress Eva Renzi who was offered the role but declined. German actress Karin Dor was eventually cast, and she went on to perform her own death scene, plummeting into the piranha infested pool, without the use of a stunt double.
Oddly, for the German release of Your Only Live Twice Dor was dubbed by somebody else.
7. Mie Hama was originally cast as Tanaka's assistant, who at that time went by the name of Suki. However, despite attending numerous English classes Hama had a lot of difficulty learning the language. So the producers switched her role with Akiko Wakabayashi, who was set to play Kissy, a part with significantly less dialogue.
Wakabayashi only requested that her character name, Suki, be changed to Aki.
8. The heavily armed WA-116 autogyro "Little Nellie" was included after Ken Adam heard a radio interview with its inventor, RAF Wing Commander Ken Wallis. Wallis piloted his invention for all aerial shots, which was equipped with various mock-up armaments by John Stears' special effects team.
However, Nellie's battle with helicopters proved to be difficult to film, with Wallis nearly crashing into the camera several times. Later, a scene filming the helicopters from above created a major downdraft and cameraman John Jordan's foot was severed by the Nellie's rotor.
9. While filming in Japan, Sean Connery and his wife Diane Cilento were hounded by the international press. Local newsmen attempted to photograph him in a rest room, leading to Connery allegedly being photographed on the toilet and the picture published in a Tokyo newspaper.
Thirty extra private security guards were hired to attend to Connery, but even the guards started to take photos of the star.
10. The Japanese press insisted on referring to Connery as James Bond, something that clearly didn't sit well with the Scot who was already finding it difficult to do other work as he believed he was typecast in the role of 007.
In one interview, Connery caused quite a commotion when he revealed that he didn't find Japanese women sexy. This later turned out to be a misinterpretation due to incorrect translation, and took place on a day when Connery was exhausted after an intensive day's filming.
Never overly keen on doing interviews anyway, Connery didn't go out of his way to be too personable with the interviewer who was aghast that the actor showed up in a casual T-shirt with baggy trousers and sandals. "Is this how James Bond dresses?" he asked, to which Connery replied tersely,
"I'm not James Bond, I'm Sean Connery, a man who likes to dress comfortably."Shortly after, Connery revealed he would be retiring from the role of James Bond.
James Bond will return next Monday in 10 things you might not know about On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
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